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33 2019

JUDICIAL COUNCIL ACT 2019

Chapter 2

Judicial Conduct Committee

Judicial Conduct Committee

43. (1) The Council shall—

(a) establish a committee which shall be known as the Judicial Conduct Committee, and

(b) at the first meeting of the Council, specify the date upon which that Committee shall stand established which shall be a date not later than 6 months following that first meeting.

(2) The function of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall be to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among judges, having regard to the principles of judicial conduct requiring judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence and diligence and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), the Judicial Conduct Committee—

(a) shall consider complaints and refer them for resolution by informal means or undertake investigations into the conduct of individual judges in accordance with this Part,

(b) shall take such action, if any, in accordance with this Part as it considers necessary for the purposes of safeguarding the administration of justice whether as a result of its consideration of a complaint and its referral for resolution by informal means or the undertaking of an investigation under this Part or otherwise,

(c) shall prepare and publish guidelines providing for the resolution by informal means of complaints that are determined to be admissible under this Part,

(d) shall, not later than 12 months after its establishment, prepare and submit to the Board for its review draft guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics, which guidelines shall include guidance as to the matters a judge should consider when deciding whether he or she should recuse himself or herself from presiding over legal proceedings, for adoption by the Council,

(e) may of its own volition or, shall, on the request of the Board or the Council, prepare and submit to the Board for its review draft amendments to guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics adopted by the Council, and

(f) may provide such advice and recommendations to an individual judge or to judges generally on judicial conduct and ethics as it sees fit.

(4) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall, subject to this Act, be independent in the performance of its functions.

(5) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall have all such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance of its functions.

(6) The Judicial Conduct Committee may obtain legal, medical or other advice in connection with the performance of any of its functions.

(7) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall, in relation to the functions conferred on it by this Act—

(a) bring or defend legal proceedings, or

(b) do any other act or thing that is necessary for the performance of those functions,

in the name of the Council.

Membership of Judicial Conduct Committee

44. (1) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall comprise the following 13 members:

(a) the ex officio members specified in subsection (2) or their replacements nominated under subsection (3);

(b) the members elected under subsection (4);

(c) the lay members appointed under subsection (5).

(2) Each of the following shall, ex officio, be a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee (in this Act referred to as an “ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee”):

(a) the Chief Justice, who shall act as chairperson of the Committee;

(b) the President of the Court of Appeal;

(c) the President of the High Court;

(d) the President of the Circuit Court;

(e) the President of the District Court.

(3) An ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee may from time to time nominate in writing another judge (other than an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee) of the court of which he or she is Chief Justice or President, as the case may be, to perform the functions of such ex officio member during such period or on such occasion or occasions as are specified in the nomination and references in this Act to that ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall, during such period or in respect of such occasion or occasions, include references to a judge so nominated.

(4) Three members of the Judicial Conduct Committee (in this Act referred to as “elected members of the Judicial Conduct Committee”) shall be elected by and from among—

(a) the ordinary judges of the Supreme Court,

(b) the ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal,

(c) the ordinary judges of the High Court,

(d) the ordinary judges and specialist judges of the Circuit Court, and

(e) the judges, other than the President, of the District Court.

(5) The Government shall appoint 5 persons to be members of the Judicial Conduct Committee (in this Act referred to as “lay members” of the Judicial Conduct Committee) from among such persons as are recommended by the Public Appointments Service in accordance with section 45 for appointment as such lay members.

(6) A person shall not be eligible for appointment to be a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee—

(a) if the person is a member of either House of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament or a local authority,

(b) if, in the case of a person who was a member of either House of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament or a local authority and who has ceased to be such a member, a period of 5 years has not yet elapsed since he or she was a member of either such House, such Parliament or a local authority,

(c) if the person is a judge or a former judge,

(d) if the person is a judge or a former judge of—

(i) the General Court of the European Union,

(ii) the Court of Justice of the European Union,

(iii) the European Court of Human Rights,

(iv) the International Court of Justice,

(v) the International Criminal Court, or

(vi) an international tribunal,

(e) if the person is an Advocate-General or a former Advocate-General of the Court of Justice of the European Union,

(f) if the person is a practising barrister or solicitor,

(g) if, in the case of a person who was a practising barrister or solicitor and who has ceased to be a practising barrister or practising solicitor, a period of 5 years has not yet elapsed since he or she last practised as a barrister or solicitor, or

(h) if the person is a civil servant.

(7) If a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee—

(a) is nominated to be a member of Seanad Éireann,

(b) is elected to be a member of either House of the Oireachtas or to be a member of the European Parliament,

(c) is regarded pursuant to Part XIII of the Second Schedule to the European Parliament Elections Act 1997 as having been elected to be a member of the European Parliament,

(d) is elected or co-opted to be a member of a local authority,

(e) is appointed to be a judge of—

(i) the General Court of the European Union,

(ii) the Court of Justice of the European Union,

(iii) the European Court of Human Rights,

(iv) the International Court of Justice,

(v) the International Criminal Court, or

(vi) an international tribunal,

(f) is appointed to be an Advocate-General of the Court of Justice of the European Union,

(g) commences practice as a barrister or solicitor, or

(h) becomes a civil servant,

he or she shall thereupon cease to be a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(8) Of the lay members appointed to the Judicial Conduct Committee, not fewer than 40 per cent of them shall be women.

Recommendations for appointment of lay members of Judicial Conduct Committee

45. (1) The Government shall request the Public Appointments Service to undertake a selection process for the purpose of identifying and recommending to the Government persons who it is satisfied are suitable for appointment to be lay members of the Judicial Conduct Committee and, accordingly, the Public Appointments Service shall comply with that request and, following the conduct of such a selection process, make a recommendation to the Government in respect of persons who participated in such process in relation to whom it is so satisfied.

(2) Subject to subsection (3) and section 44 (6), the Minister shall agree with the Public Appointments Service the selection criteria and procedures that are to apply to a selection process under this section.

(3) For the purposes of making a recommendation under this section, the Public Appointments Service shall have regard to the desirability that the lay members of the Judicial Conduct Committee will, among them, possess knowledge of, and experience in, as many as possible of the following matters:

(a) the maintenance of standards in professions regulated by a statutory or other body;

(b) dealing with complaints made against members of such professions;

(c) mediation or other mechanisms for alternative dispute resolution;

(d) the administration of justice;

(e) the management and provision of services to members of the public.

(4) Subject to subsection (3), the Public Appointments Service shall not make a recommendation under this section in respect of a person unless it is satisfied that the person possesses such relevant experience, qualifications, training or expertise as is appropriate having regard to the functions of the Judicial Conduct Committee as would render him or her suitable to be a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(5) The Public Appointments Service shall provide the Government with particulars of the experience, qualifications, training and expertise of each person in respect of whom it makes a recommendation under this section.

(6) This section shall, with any necessary modifications, apply in relation to the filling of any vacancy that arises in the lay membership of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

Term of membership of Judicial Conduct Committee

46. (1) A nomination under section 44 (3) shall—

(a) cease to have effect upon—

(i) the expiration of the period or the passing of the occasion or occasions, as the case may be, specified in the nomination, or

(ii) the rescinding of the nomination by the ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee who made the nomination,

(b) where the ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee who made the nomination ceases to hold the judicial office by virtue of which he or she became such ex officio member, cease to have effect upon that ex officio member ceasing to hold that office,

(c) where the judge in respect of whom the nomination was made ceases to hold the judicial office by virtue of which he or she was so nominated, cease to have effect upon his or her ceasing to hold that office, or

(d) where the judge in respect of whom the nomination was made by notice in writing given or sent to the ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee indicates that he or she does not wish to continue to perform the functions concerned, cease to have effect upon the receipt of that notice by that ex officio member.

(2) Subject to section 47 (3), each elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee and, subject to section 47 (4), each lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall continue to be a member of the Committee for a term of 4 years from the date of his or her election or appointment, as the case may be, unless he or she sooner dies, resigns, becomes ineligible for membership or, in the case of a lay member, is removed from membership of the Committee.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee or a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee whose term of membership expires with the passage of time shall be eligible for re-election or re-appointment to the Committee for a further term of 4 years as an elected member or lay member, as the case may be, of that Committee.

(4) An elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee or a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee who has served 2 terms as a member of that Committee shall not be eligible for re-election or re-appointment to the Committee as an elected member or lay member, as the case may be, other than in accordance with subsection (5).

(5) An elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee or a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee who has served 2 terms as a member of that Committee shall be eligible for re-election or re-appointment to the Committee as an elected member or lay member, as the case may be, after a period of 4 years has elapsed from the date of the expiration of his or her most recent term of membership of the Judicial Conduct Committee as such an elected member or lay member, as the case may be.

(6) An elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee may resign from that Committee by notice in writing given or sent to the chairperson of the Committee and the resignation shall take effect on the day on which the chairperson receives the notice.

(7) A lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee may resign from that Committee by notice in writing given or sent to the Minister and the resignation shall take effect on the day on which the Minister receives the notice.

(8) The lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee concerned shall give or send a copy of the notice under subsection (7) to the chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee when he or she gives or sends the notice to the Minister or as soon as practicable thereafter.

(9) (a) An elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee who is appointed to a judicial office referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of section 44 (4) other than the one that he or she held when he or she was so elected shall continue to be an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(b) Where an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee ceases to be a judge, he or she shall thereupon cease to be a member of the Committee.

(10) The Government may at any time remove from the Judicial Conduct Committee a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee if the Government is satisfied that the lay member—

(a) has become incapable through ill health of effectively performing the functions of the office,

(b) has committed stated misbehaviour,

(c) has a conflict of interest of such significance that he or she should cease to hold office, or

(d) is otherwise unfit to hold office or unable to discharge the functions of the office.

(11) The Judicial Conduct Committee may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership provided there are not less than—

(a) 4 members of the Committee who are judges, and

(b) 3 lay members of the Committee.

Casual vacancies in membership of Judicial Conduct Committee

47. (1) Where an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee dies, retires or resigns from judicial office, resigns from the Judicial Conduct Committee in accordance with subsection (6) of section 46 or ceases to be a member of that Committee under subsection (9)(b) of that section, the vacancy so occasioned shall be filled by a judge elected to be a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee in the same manner as the member of the Committee who occasioned the vacancy was elected.

(2) Where a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee dies, resigns from the Judicial Conduct Committee in accordance with section 46 (7), ceases to be a member of the Committee under section 44 (7) or is removed from that Committee under section 46 (10), the vacancy so occasioned shall be filled by a person appointed to be a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee in the same manner as the member of the Committee who occasioned the vacancy was appointed.

(3) The term of office of an elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee elected in accordance with subsection (1) shall be for the unexpired period of the term of membership of the member of the Committee whom he or she has replaced.

(4) The term of office of a lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee appointed in accordance with subsection (2) shall be for the unexpired period of the term of membership of the member of the Committee whom he or she has replaced.

(5) A term of membership of the Judicial Conduct Committee of any duration resulting from an election or appointment in accordance with subsection (1) or (2) shall be regarded as a term of membership for the purposes of subsections (4) and (5) of section 46 .

Meetings and procedures of Judicial Conduct Committee

48. (1) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall hold such and so many meetings as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

(2) The first meeting of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall be held not later than 1 month after the date on which the Committee stands established under section 43 (1)(b).

(3) At a meeting of the Judicial Conduct Committee—

(a) the chairperson of that Committee shall, if present, be the chairperson of the meeting, or

(b) if and so long as the chairperson of that Committee is not present, the next most senior judge present shall be the chairperson of the meeting.

(4) Every question at a meeting of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall be determined by a majority of the votes of the members of the Judicial Conduct Committee present and voting on the question and, in the case of an equal division of the votes, the chairperson of the meeting shall have a second or casting vote.

(5) The quorum for a meeting of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall be 5, of whom—

(a) not fewer than 3 shall be ex officio members of the Judicial Conduct Committee or elected members of the Judicial Conduct Committee, and

(b) not fewer than 2 shall be lay members of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(6) Subject to this Act and any procedures specified by it under section 52 , the Judicial Conduct Committee shall regulate its own procedures.

Registrar to Judicial Conduct Committee

49. (1) The Secretary or a member of the staff of the Council who is designated under section 34 (5) to perform the functions of the Secretary shall, in addition to the functions conferred on the Secretary by this Act, act as secretary to the Judicial Conduct Committee and, when so acting, shall be known as the Registrar to the Judicial Conduct Committee (in this Act referred to as the “Registrar”).

(2) The Registrar shall not be a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee but he or she may, in accordance with procedures specified by the Judicial Conduct Committee, attend meetings of the Committee and shall be entitled to speak and give advice at such meetings.

(3) The Registrar shall not attend meetings of the Complaints Review Committee.